Published February 12, 2014
It might have cost her 100 Facebook friends, but a Brisbane, [Australia] mother has no regrets about sharing "confronting" images of her breast cancer battle online.
Mother-of-four Beth Whaanga was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 32nd birthday last year, with doctors finding she also had the BRCA2 gene, which predisposes women to the disease. Actor-director Angelina Jolie famously had a double mastectomy after discovering she carried the gene.
Whaanga had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction in November, and with a hysterectomy next on the schedule, her body was riddled with scars. But instead of hiding her body away, she and friend and photographer Nadia Masot embarked on a project [called] “Under the Red Dress” to show the ravages of the surgery.
“These images are confronting and contain topless material,” Whaanga wrote on Facebook [over] the weekend. “They are not in any way meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive please hide them from your feed. Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story ...The old and the young, age does not matter, self-examination is vital. It can happen to you.”
Just hours later, the images of her body had been reported to Facebook and she had lost more than 100 friends.
“That’s okay, everyone is allowed their view – that’s what social media is,” she told The Courier-Mail. “I have exposed myself to millions of people, and if that gets one person to check their body then that’s what I wanted.”